In the annual New Year’s Eve cross-border battle, Team Canada came out victorious 5-3 and ended preliminary play undefeated in Group A. However, the win did not come easy as the final 2:34 put fans on both teams on an emotional roller-coaster.
Team USA’s scoring leader Dylan Larkin came up big, twice. At 17:26 of the third period, the Detroit Red Wings 2014 first round pick scored beside the net on a feed from Hudson Fasching to cut the Canadian lead to one.
It appeared as if the game was over after American defenseman Anthony DeAngelo cleanly turned the puck over to Canadian forward Sam Reihart for the empty net with 54 seconds left to play.
12 seconds later, Larkin scored over the shoulder of Eric Comrie to cut the lead to one, yet again.
Unfortunately for Larkin and Team USA, the inconceivable near-comeback ended with Max Domi scoring the empty netter to seal the win for Team Canada.
Through 4 preliminary games, Larkin has 5 goals, 2 assists.
Entering the game, it was all about Canada’s Connor McDavid versus USA’s Jack Eichel. Both had minor, disappointing impacts on the game. McDavid and Eichel had just an assist to their names. Eichel was primarily ineffective due to Canada head coach Benoit Groulx assigning defenseman Darnell Nurse, an Edmonton Oilers 2013 first round pick, the task of shutting him down.
Eric Comrie, a Winnipeg Jets 2013 second round pick, earned his second win of the tournament by stopping 25 of 28 shots. In the other crease, Vancouver Canucks 2014 second round pick Thatcher Demko recorded his first loss of the tournament in a 38-save performance.
Canada struck first on the scoreboard with a beautiful goal from Max Domi at 7:07 of the second period. Domi, a Phoenix Coyotes 2013 first round pick, side stepped American defender Brandon Carlo, shot, picked up his own rebound and scored.
Carlo would redeem himself later in the period blocking Domi’s shot on the backdoor.
At 9:08 of the second period, Larkin received a questionable high sticking penalty catching Robby Fabbri in the mouth on the follow threw of his stick. 1:03 later, Canada capitalized on the man advantage with a goal from defenseman Josh Morrissey, a Winnipeg Jets 2013 first round pick. Fabri, who drew the penalty, assisted on the goal.
After not scoring a goal on 13 previous power plays, the United States tallied at 13:12 of the second period. Sonny Milano fed defenseman Antony DeAngelo pinching in, and he scored on a sprawling Comrie.
DeAngelo’s score was the first goal Canada has allowed shorthanded all tournament.
Team Canada’s captain Curtis Lazar scored an all-important insurance at 10:01 of the third period to widen the lead to two. McDavid’s shot off Demko’s shoulder deflected into Lazar’s torso, where he deposited the puck into the net. The goal was reviewed but stood as called.
Up Next: Canada will travel to Toronto to play the fourth place team in Group B. USA will remain in Montreal to take on the third place team in Group B. Both games will take place on Friday.